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AZquotes claims that Lord Kelvin (or William Thomson) said this:

If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.

But there is no such a quote in his Wikiquote page. So did he actually say this?

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    Actually, the quote is mentioned on Wikiquote—but only on the talk page. It's implied there that the quote is a corruption of "...but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind..." which is the first quote listed on the main page. – Laurel Sep 30 '18 at 18:24
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    @Laurel that should be an answer – Mark Sep 30 '18 at 21:52
  • I haven’t checked whether other sources repeat this claim, but that doesn’t seem sufficiently notable. – Andrew Grimm Oct 1 '18 at 10:53
  • @AndrewGrimm how do you define sufficiently notable? – Ooker Oct 1 '18 at 11:42
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He didn't say that exact quote; Lord Kelvin tended towards rambling, so if you see any particularly pithy one-liner quotes, it probably wasn't him. His actual quote?

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.

The actual source is from Antoine-Augustin Cournot, in De l’origine et des limites de la correspondance entre l’algèbre et la géométrie (1847), 375.

  • how did you find the source? – Ooker Oct 3 '18 at 10:48

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